Book of the Week #12:

Master of the Game,

by Sidney Sheldon

“Business is a game, played for fantastic stakes, and you’re in competition with experts. If you want to win, you have to learn to be a master of the game.”

– David to Kate

We continue with the books of the grown-up kind, with this absolute gem, by an unparalleled genius.

And really, when the name “Sidney Sheldon” does pop up, you know you are in the grown-up part of the list. However, we will still be keeping the post kid-friendly, okay? We do have a lot more to talk about… Firstly, I have to mention the glaring error in the back-cover blurb, in the edition I read… It says, and I quote:

Kate Blackwell’s nineteenth birthday celebrations include toasts from a Supreme Court Judge and a telegram from the White House.

Now, as far as achievements go, these do undoubtably be the more impressive ones. Naturally, my interest was piqued… It did, however, leave me fairly confused for the first few pages, till I realised that it was a misprint, and they actually meant ninetieth, not nineteenth

However, as an author, I can now say that these things happen… Not a big deal…

Anyway, let us get back to the book itself…

Overall, the book is 673 pages long, and yet, I managed to finish it in a single sitting! It must have taken me over twelve hours, I’m certain. I remember having begun it sometime in the evening, and finished well after dawn, the next day… It was probably the first time I stayed up all night, that is how young I was…

So, what is the recipe of this phenomenal thriller? Let us see…

The plot itself is quite expansive, spanning over a century, and three continents, split in five major parts.

The first part narrates the story of Jamie McGregor, a scrappy, young Scotsman, who journeys to South Africa, to try his hand at prospecting.

Now, what I first realised during this part of the story was that the living conditions in minor towns in late nineteenth century South Africa were extremely brutal, unlike what we witnessed during cricket matches during the 2003 World Cup…

The other thing I learned was that, through this part, was that Jamie, despite his misfortunes and maleficence, lays down the foundation for what is to become one of the biggest corporate empires of the twentieth century…

The four parts thereafter focus on Kate, and her descendants, as the company expands under her leadership. See, I cannot even state the name of the company, as even that would be a spoiler…

The narrative, throughout the book, is smooth and fluid. The changes in perspective are swift, but do not feel abrupt, therefore giving the reader a complete idea of the matter at hand.

The use of the setting is fairly perfect… No place would have worked as well for the first part, as a small town in South Africa. After all, that is where the diamonds are…

Same is the case with Paris, in Book 4, and New York, in Book 4.

Also, events like the Bantu rebellions, and later the world wars, have been flawlessly in the plot of the book, and that, as I say repeatedly, is the mark of any good book…

However, it is the characters that drive the story… Sidney Sheldon excels at (or rather, used to) creating characters that the reader cares about, despite being severely flawed, and then using them to truly drive the narrative, using a very strong, yet fluid, character voice.

He also seemed to have a knack for creating particularly tough, intriguing female characters, which, I can personally vouch, is not the easiest thing to do.

It all probably makes sense, if you consider the fact that Sidney Sheldon actually first tasted success on Broadway, Hollywood and Television, and started writing novels only after he was 50.

He wrote 18 novels in a career spanning 34 years, which have sold over 300 million copies, making him the seventh best selling fiction writer of all time. And, Master of the Game may have been his very best… I would recommend it to only, and all, adult readers. You can find it here:

Also, Master of the Game spawned a sequel, Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game written by one Tilly Bagshawe… I have not read it, yet, as I cannot help but be simultaneously intrigued and appalled…

Will I eventually read it? Probably not… So if any of you have, do tell us what you thought of it…

Okay, that is all for today…

Thank you…

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Published by

Yashas Mahajan

Author of Arrkaya: Origins, now available online... Increasingly being referred to as The Writer Guy...

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